Police say they're stepping up safety efforts near school
And a crossing guard for area is on city's agenda
CHAMPAIGN — After a 7-year-old South Side Elementary student was hit by a car crossing Prospect Avenue this week, city officials say they are taking steps to make the walk safer for students trying to get to school.
The 7-year-old girl was taken to the hospital on Monday for a leg injury and was recovering on Friday after breaking two bones, according to an email from her father, Andrew Pelz.
Champaign school district officials said they are requesting a crossing guard to be stationed on Prospect Avenue south of Green Street.
The city is considering placing a crossing guard in that area, Champaign police spokeswoman Rene Dunn said on Friday.
But in the meantime, police have stepped up traffic enforcement efforts to try slowing vehicle speeds near the school.
Police have met with South Side Elementary Principal Bill Taylor to discuss pedestrian traffic patterns near the school, Dunn said, and have stationed a speed trailer on John Street near Prospect Avenue to keep drivers on alert.
Traffic enforcement will continue and public safety message boards will be placed along Prospect Avenue beginning next week to remind drivers that students are crossing.
The Champaign City Council is scheduled to take up the issue on Oct. 22 to discuss long-term solutions. Those could include new signs and infrastructure to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers in that area.
A crossing guard is also in the mix, Dunn said.
"Right now those are some of the options that we're exploring," Dunn said.
Dunn said police have received requests for a crossing guard in that area, just as they do for school zones all over Champaign.
"We get many requests for crossing guards and other safety measures throughout the city," Dunn said.
Pelz, who was out of the country and unreachable by phone on Friday, said in an email that his family lives only a block and a half away from South Side Elementary, but their commute to school is complicated by Prospect Avenue.
"We all cross one of the busiest streets in town, Prospect Avenue, without any assistance whatsoever. No crossing guard. No school zone. No painted crosswalk. No signs," Pelz said in his email. "Sometimes we wait at the corner for nearly 5 minutes for a small gap in the traffic. And when we finally cross, we don't walk; we run, as the cars pay no mind to our existence."
Cindy Wachter has a fifth-grader at South Side and said she wants a crossing guard to help students across Prospect Avenue. She has been asking the city to make the area safer for years, she said, and she plans to stay on the city about it in the future.
She said she would like to see the increased police presence in the area but does not think it is making her daughter's walk to school safer for the time being.
"One policeman pulling over a car is not slowing traffic," Wachter said.